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A US Navy patrol boat fired warning shots on Tuesday near an Iranian vessel that American sailors said came dangerously close to them during a tense encounter in the Persian Gulf. (July 25)
AP

 

A Navy patrol boat fired warning shots near an Iranian naval ship that was conducting “an unsafe and unprofessional interaction” with a U.S. ship in international waters of the Persian Gulf on Tuesday, the Navy said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps viewed the incident differently, claiming a U.S. warship moved toward its patrol boat in an attempt to “instigate and frighten” its crew.

The USS Thunderbolt was involved in coalition exercises when the Iranian ship came within 150 yards, Navy Central Command said in a statement. The Iranian ship did not respond to repeated attempts to establish radio communications, and warning flares and blasts of the ship’s whistle also were ignored, the Navy said.

“As the Iranian vessel proceeded toward the U.S. ship, Thunderbolt again sounded five short blasts prior to firing warning shots in front of the Iranian vessel,” the Navy said. “After the warning shots were fired, the Iranian vessel halted its unsafe approach.”

The Iranian vessel failed to respect maritime “rules of the road” and internationally recognized maritime customs, “creating a risk for collision,” the statement said.

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Not so, the Revolutionary Guard countered.

“IRGC navy patrol boat continued its mission, ignoring the unprofessional and provocative move by the US warship,” the Revolutionary Guard said in a statement. “The (U.S.) warship left the zone after a while.”

The incident took place a week after the Trump administration certified to Congress that Iran is complying with a complex nuclear deal cut with the West under the Obama administration. But the administration also added sanctions against…